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Austerity in Africa

Audit cultures and the weakening of public sector health systems

James Pfeiffer

, downsizing, outsourcing, and decentralization. Economists were now telling health providers how to “invest” in health. This rollout came amid the ongoing Third World debt crisis and austerity operationalized through “structural adjustment programs” that were

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Uneven development, the politics of scale, or global austerity?

Ida Susser

at other times focusing on the cultures of capital as they are imposed on debtor countries by global corporate elites (Pfeiffer and Chapman 2010). Conceiving of structural adjustment policies (SAPs) as “austerity,” in the sense currently employed

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The anthropology of austerity

An introduction

Theodore Powers and Theodoros Rakopoulos

instances of austerity elsewhere. Indeed, there is scholarship outside anthropology, in earlier and recent work by Silvia Federici (1990 , 2014 ), for example, that takes the association between indebtedness, austerity measures, and structural adjustment

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Reversing the world—What austerity does to time and place

Theodoros Rakopoulos

novel set of social relations, seals away the historical background and comparative potential. Austerity's definition might already be with us, since the time we have come across the deployment of structural adjustment. It is precisely an ontological

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Viral Intimacy and Catholic Nationalist Political Economy

Covid-19 and the Community Response in Rural Ireland

David Whyte


Changes in the conduct and regulation of intimacy during the COVID-19 crisis in the Republic of Ireland has uncovered the legacy of Catholic nationalism in Irish capitalism. Many commentators analysed the increased welfarism and community service provision as the suspension of Irish neoliberalism. In fact, the Irish COVID-19 response is shaped by a longer tradition of political and economic approaches that have their genesis in the revolutionary Catholic state following independence from Britain. Based on ethnography of community development practices in a rural Irish region, the article describes how Catholic nationalist influences are present in the collection of institutions involved in the Community Response and its approach to spatial organisation. The governance of the response also sheds light on a lack of intimacy between citizen and state that is not only the product of neoliberal structural adjustments but is uniquely characteristic of the Catholic ethos that influences Irish capitalism.

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The Limits of Black Political Empowerment

Fanon, Marx, 'the Poors' and the 'new reality of the nation' in South Africa

Nigel Gibson

In an earlier paper, written in reaction to those who argued that the African National Congress (ANC) had no alternative but to implement neoliberal economic policies in the context of the ‘Washington Consensus’, I discussed the strategic choices and ideological pitfalls of the ‘political class’who took over state power in South Africa after the end of apartheid and implemented its own homegrown structural adjustment programme (Gibson 2001). Much of this transition has been scripted by political science ‘transition literature’ and much of it is proactive, mapping out what should be done to establish a ‘pacted’, ‘elite’ democracy overseeing neoliberal economic policies (O’Donnell, Schmitter & Whitehead 1986). From another vantage point, I argued that Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth is perhaps one of the most perceptive critiques of the transition literature available. This paper continues the discussion.

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Collectivism, Universalism, and Struggles over Common Property Resources in the 'New' Europe

John Pickles

Anyone who studies post-socialist political economy probably has to begin a discussion of ‘the commons’ and common property resources by explaining the relationship between common property and collectivism, and the enormous impact that liberal and neo-liberal thought and institutions have had on the social economies of the Eastern European commons. In this article, I want to do this in three ways. First, I argue that contemporary accounts of socialist and post-socialist common property resources and practices have been shaped by the commitments of neo-liberalism and have had the very particular effect (and perhaps intent) of discrediting certain kinds of collective action and common property institutions. Second, I illustrate the ways in which a new definition of the commons has emerged in Europe—one that struggles to harmonize juridical and political aspirations for a peaceful and inclusive European Union with a common economic project and space of harmonized markets and trade policy. These twinned projects of this new ‘common economic union’ and their own versions of what constitutes a public, a commons, as well as their universal value, are increasingly conflated with post-colonial notions of a return to Europe and with deeply historical and racialized views of identity and commonality. The building of markets through the institutions and projects of structural adjustment and shock therapy has resulted in a thoroughgoing integration of the economies of the region with those of the broader international market and a fundamental recomposition of class forces in the region.

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From Crisis to Resistance?

‘Exception’, Neo-liberalism, and Two Voices in the Left

Theodoros Rakopoulos

it entered its sixth year of recession, the country had seen its economy contract by one-fourth ( Lapavitsas 2012 ), the largest crunch any ‘Western’ European state has ever experienced during peacetime. It has seen radical structural adjustment in

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Echoes of austerity

Policy, temporality, and public health in South Africa

Theodore Powers

in 1996 ( Aron and Elbadawi 1999 ). The ANC was faced with a difficult choice: to go it alone and risk losing national autonomy via structural adjustment or to adopt the core economic tenets promulgated by the Washington Consensus and maintain

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An anthropological contribution to rethinking the relationship between money, debt, and economic growth

Richard H. Robbins

Muzio 2015 ). In effect, what we generally call neoliberalism, austerity, or, in emerging economies, structural adjustment have been, in effect, a series of policies to compensate for slower growth and maintain the benchmark rate of return for the 1